Royal Ascot is the premier
Flat racing meeting of the season with prestigious races aplenty and
more than £3.3m in prize money on offer. The major races
are the six Group One events:
The St James’s Palace Stakes -
Tuesday 15th June
Named after the Tudor Royal residence, the inaugural running of the St
James’s Palace Stakes in 1834 was a walkover for the Derby winner
Plenipotentiary. This race features the best milers from the Classic
generation, often attracting horses that have run in the English, French
and Irish 2,000 Guineas, with a succession of famous winners from Brigadier
Gerard to Giant’s Causeway. Last year’s victor, the dual
2,000 Guineas hero Rock of Gibraltar, was rated the world’s best
racehorse in 2002 in the International Classifications.
Azamour the Palace jewel
Azamour made up for two Classic defeats with victory in the St James's
Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The John Oxx-trained colt (9-2) was third in the UltimateBet.com 2000 Guineas
and second in the Irish equivalent.
But the vibes were good for the Aga Khan-owned colt beforehand and supporters
were proved right as he came fast and late under Michael Kinane inside
the final furlong.
Diamond Green tried hard to stay with him but had to give best at the line
by a neck.
Antonius Pius was three-quarters of a length away in third, but the Newmarket
Guineas winner Haafhd was only fourth after holding every chance.
The Queen Anne Stakes - Tuesday 15th
Founded in 1840, the Queen Anne Stakes commemorates the monarch who established
racing at Ascot in 1711. Run as the Trial Stakes until 1929, the Queen
Anne Stakes was first awarded Group Three status in 1971, becoming Group
Two in 1984. The Queen Anne Stakes achieved the highest three-year average
rating of any Group Two race in Britain from 1999 to 2002 according to
the International Classifications. Elevated to Group One status for the
first timein 2003, the race attracts the season’s leading older
milers from across Europe.
Bend blazes to Queen Anne victory
Last year's 2000 Guineas winner Refuse To Bend returned to his best form with a dramatic victory in the Queen Anne Stakes.
Frankie Dettori brought the former Irish-trained colt to challenge Soviet Song in the final furlong and take the Group One prize for the second year running in the Godolphin colours.
Lateen Sails made the early running with Nebraska Tornado, and when the Godolphin second string weakened two furlongs out, Soviet Song went on.
Favourite Six Perfections flattered briefly, but it was Refuse To Bend (12-1) who put in a determined bid to land the spoils by a neck.
Salselon came from way back to take third, three-quarters of a length away.
A delighted Dettori said: "He's won a Guineas and has
been a good horse.
"I think the horse has worked brilliantly and we had
all been puzzled why he had been running too badly.
"Today he travelled really well. When I pulled him
out it took him a bit of time to get going, but once he got into top gear
he was always going to win.
"The horse has got a bit of class and it's taken time
to come. "
Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford added: "I think
we've won it six times now - it's been a really lucky race for us. We've
had some top-class older milers and he stacks up with the best of them. "
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes -
Wednesday 16th June
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes was first run at Royal Ascot in 1862,
named after the son of Queen Victoria (later to become King Edward VII).
Originally staged over 1m 5f, the race often attracted horses that had
participated in the Classics. There was no Prince of Wales’s Stakes
from 1946 until 1968, a year before the current Prince of Wales’s
investiture in 1969, when the distance changed to one mile and two furlongs.
Many top class middle-distance horses have won the race, from Brigadier
Gerard to Dubai Millennium.
In 2000 the Prince of Wales’s Stakes was upgraded to Group One status
for the first time and restricted to four year olds and upwards. As part
of a new initiative in 2003, the race formed one of the first legs of the
BHB Summer Triple Crown and Grand Slam.
Rakti goes one better
Rakti, runner-up in the Prince of Wales's Stakes
12 months ago, went one better in the Group One contest at Royal Ascot
The five-year-old, trained by Michael Jarvis and ridden by Philip Robinson,
led two furlongs out and quickly went clear to beat Powerscourt and Ikhtyar.
Robinson had difficulty settling Rakti in the early stages as Godolphin's
second string Lunar Sovereign made the pace for Sulamani. However, the
3-1 shot was going much better five furlongs out and Robinson had him well-placed
just behind the lead before striking for home and winning by two lengths
from Powerscourt (9-2).
Ikhtyar (8-1) was another half-length back in third.
Jarvis was delighted to see the horse make a winning start to the season.
He told BBC Sport: "As he's got older, he's got stronger and he's
got the most wonderful turn of foot on this fast ground.
" I'm lucky to have had some good horses in my career, but he would be the
best 10-furlong horse I've had and I think he could win a good mile race.
" I think that Hong Kong is definitely on the agenda, but there's some big
ones before then."
Winning jockey, Robinson said: "He's a very, very strong horse and
I said to Michael that once you got one grip you wouldn't want to go for
another or you would be gone.
" They went fast enough there for his first run and he will definitely improve
" All credit to Mr Jarvis. I was very, very worried about him, but he said
he thought the horse was just changing as he got older and was not showing
as much at home."
The Gold Cup - Thursday 17th June
Founded in 1807, the Gold Cup is the oldest and one of the most prestigious
races at Royal Ascot. Staged over the marathon trip of two and a half
miles, the race is a stiff test of stamina and attracts the very best
staying horses. Many horses have distinguished themselves with multiple
Gold Cup wins, enhancing the race’s reputation as a specialist’s
event. Anticipation first achieved the feat in 1819 and Royal Rebel became
the latest duel winner when landing back-to-back Gold Cups last year.
The great stayer Sagaro is the only horse to have won the race three
times, from 1975 to 1977.
Gold Cup glory for Papineau
Papineau came from off the pace to land the Gold Cup for the Godolphin
team at Royal Ascot.
Frankie Dettori settled the 5-1 second-favourite back in the field but
steadily made headway to go past Westerner entering the final furlong.
The French raider had no answer to Papineau's finishing kick and had to
settle for second, with Darasim staying on to take third in the premier stayers'
Papineau missed the break slightly, along with Brian Boru, as Japanese
raider Ingrandire took the initiative in the early stages of the two-and-a-half
Mr Dinos, sent off the 5-4 favourite, was always up with the pace and Kieren
Fallon took up the running entering the home straight and set sail for home.
But they were queuing up to take him on and he was soon passed by Westerner
Dettori weaved his way through to take over in the final furlong, pulling
clear to score by a length and a half, with Darasim (28-1) a further two and
a half lengths away.
It was a fourth victory in the race for Godolphin following Classic Cliche
and Kayf Tara (twice).
The Coronation Stakes - Friday
First run in 1840, the Coronation Stakes was founded to commemorate the
crowning of Queen Victoria in 1838. This mile event is the fillies’ equivalent
of the St James’s Palace Stakes and attracts horses that have run
well in the English, Irish and French 1,000 Guineas. The last Newmarket
Classic heroine to go on to victory in this race was One in a Million
in 1979. In comparison, winners of the Irish 1,000 Guineas have a much
better recent record, with eight fillies landing the Curragh Classic
before winning the Coronation Stakes.
crowned Coronation queen
Attraction cemented her status as the best three-year-old filly in Europe over a mile with victory in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The first to complete the English and Irish 1000 Guineas double, Attraction won her third Group One race of the season in brilliant style.
Now unbeaten in all her eight races, the Duke Of Roxburghe's filly, trained by Mark Johnston, made virtually all the running in the hands of Kevin Darley. Majestic Desert was second and Red Bloom third.
Darley had Attraction quickly away from stall 10 and she was ahead in a matter of strides from Royal Tigress and Red Bloom.
She had most of the field struggling at halfway and held a two-length lead on the turn for home.
None of her 10 rivals was capable of getting in a blow and Attraction, the 6-4 favourite, went on to win by two and a half lengths from Majestic Desert (25-1), who pipped Red Bloom (10-3) for second by a head.
"She's something else - that is the difference. You just throw the reins at her and she takes the race by the scruff of the neck herself," Darley told BBC Sport.
"Everybody who was worried about her going round a bend for the first time need not have - she is that much of a professional.
"She got a bit keen running up the hill today, but once she saw the road she pricked her ears and got herself right for the turn.
Once she straightened up it was all over.
"People keep saying she's a freak. She keeps breaking all records, and she's so easy to ride that she makes my job that much easier."
The Golden Jubilee Stakes - Saturday
Formerly known as the Cork and Orrery Stakes, Royal Ascot’s most
prestigious sprint was given a new name and elevated to Group One status
to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002. First
run in 1868, this six-furlong contest was originally named after Lord Cork,
another Master of the Buckhounds. The most successful trainer in the history
of this race is the legendary Vincent O’Brien, who was victorious
on five occasions between 1970 and 1993.
Jag strikes gold
Fayr Jag just held on in the shadow of the post to land the Golden Jubilee
Tim Easterby's charge, who dead-heated in the Wokingham on this day last
year, burst through inside the final furlong under Willie Supple.
John Hammond trained Ratio to share the spoils with Fayr Jag last year
and history nearly repeated itself as his Crystal Castle lunged late.
But the northern raider clung on to prevail by a head.
Hong Kong raider Cape Of Good Hope was the same distance away in third.
The winner was sent off a 12-1 chance, with the Roger Charlton-trained
Avonbridge the favourite at 100-30. He could manage only fifth after blazing
a trail up the stands rail early on.
Airwave was held up in the early stages but never threatened to produce
the turn of foot that carried her into second in this race last year.
Monsieur Bond's chance went when he was squeezed for room a couple of furlongs
out, although he was under pressure at the time.
Supple told BBC Sport: "Group Ones don't come often enough and I was
very lucky to ride this horse. He has been very good to me.
He has had his problems over the years - he broke a bone in his head in
the stalls, and I fell off him at Newmarket last year. He travelled well all
the way and got a good lead, but probably got there too soon and just held
on in the end."